The Toronto Blue Jays expect to extend the $15.3-million qualifying offer to left fielder Melky Cabrera, giving him until November 10 to accept or decline it. The Blue Jays also expect Cabrera to decline it and test the costless agent market says Shi Davidi of Toronto SportsNet.
Should Cabrera decline the offer, then he will become a costless agent. Davidi explained that Cabrera, age 29, wants a long-term deal. Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos understands that, but he is not sure if he and Cabrera can reach an agreement soon. Davidi compared two other players' recent deals to what he believes is the range in terms of years and salary that Cabrera may seek. Davidi writes,
"Estimates on a contract for Cabrera vary wildly, with some pointing to Jhonny Peralta’s $53-million, four-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals as a baseline, others arguing that the $72.5-million, seven-year contract the Boston Red Sox gave Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo in August is a more realistic starting point."
At age 29, this could be the switch-hitting outfielder's best chance at a big contract.
Cabrera finished the season hitting .301/.351/.448 with 16, HR, 73 RBI, and a 3.1 WAR. He stayed healthy while the Blue Jays lost key players such as Adam Lind, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion throughout the season, but he ended the season on the 60-day disabled list with a fractured finger. He is a career .286 hitter with 88 HR and 520 RBI in 10 seasons with the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants, and Blue Jays.
The qualifying offer is the average of the top 125 salaries of the just-completed season. This offseason, that average is approximately $15.3 million. The player must have played the entire season for the offering team, which Cabrera did. Should Cabrera accept the offer, then he will sign a one-year contract for 2015 and go through the process again next offseason.
Should Cabrera decline as expected, then he becomes a costless agent. The Blue Jays then would get a compensation draft pick between the first and second rounds in June if any other team signs him. The signing team will lose a first-round pick -- unless it is in the top 10 (then, the team loses its next pick). Should Cabrera re-sign with the Blue Jays, then nothing happens regarding draft picks.
Davidi says that the two sides have spoken both during and after the season, "but things went nowhere." The two sides remain far apart in their negotiations.